Friday, March 18, 2011

The New York Times Wants--No, *Needs*--You to Pay

A snip of tonight's New York Times internet front page.

I grew up reading the New York Times. We were Times people when we lived in New York. When we moved to Vermont, we continued to seek out the New York Times, including a mail subscription. My father especially enjoyed the bounty of riches in every edition. It is not a perfect paper, as it certainly interprets events through it's liberal/left leaning New York based lens, but in my opinion, it is consistently one of the most well written papers, and is a paper that is willing to take the time to write the kind of long considerate article that newspapers do best. The on-line edition continues the tradition quite capably. It has been free. The model that newspapers publish under is broken--the print editions are not getting the advertising to support the enterprise and most papers are losing copious amounts of money. Attempts to get ads on line have been faltering. Trying to get people to pay for content they have gotten for free in the past has not worked at all. Indeed, The New York Times tried it before.

They are trying it again. You will be able to read 20 articles a month for free. Otherwise you will have to pay $15. I don't know if there will be free access from any smart phone. Costs are high for smart phone access. Here's a link to the article on the topic. The piece came out this morning. To say that people have a reaction is to put it lightly. As I write this, there have been 2,141 comments to the article--they've stopped accepting more.

Trying to put the genie of free access back in the bottle will be extremely difficult. Most that have tried it and have a little success have used this model of some free content and the rest behinds a pay wall. Our local Kansas City Star does this, although they do not set limits for articles and the smart phone app is free.

Newspapers have to find a practical way to finance their operations--they are rapidly going broke for a multitude of reasons. I think the Times' experiment will be watched. Their success or failure will have implications for the entire industry. In the meantime, I am sad. I will miss reading the often thought provoking content of one of the nation's leading newspapers. Twenty articles don't go very far...


chuck said...

"In the meantime, I am sad. I will miss reading the often thought provoking content of one of the nation's leading newspapers. Twenty articles don't go very far..."

This, no doubt, will be a familiar and frequently repeated sentiment.

The Gray Lady is in her dotage, diminished by circumstance, design and ossification.

Relevance and journalistic integrity, are subject to the whim and caprice of cash flow. Behind the curtain, in tough circumstance, is just another group of folks trying to pay the bills.

I am less than sanguine with regard to this latest endeavor from the most exalted of all dead tree media.

This more egalitarian internet op ed take on the news, replete with blogs, bullshit and bombast does not preclude the arrival of a new Ambose Bierce imo, it paves the way for legions of them.

Elegies for the Gray Lady are not requiems for journalism and the 4th estate, they are markers on the road to the evolution of same.

Damn the Luddites, all ahead flank!!

the observer said...

That's a great comment!

I think that there will be a place for the type of work done by the newspaper broadsheet, it's just a question of where and how will it be paid for. Already, we are seeing transitions in the internet world from blogging to shorter forms, but there will always be blogs.

Information is quick and plentiful and that's good. There is a need for deeper analysis of what's going on--the form of that work is in transition right now.

The next Woodward/Bernstein is out there!

The Observer

chuck said...


Bob G. said...

I remember a long time ago when the NYT stood for the FACTS.,,and the TRUTH.
They've fallen SO far down the ladder these days.
God "get it".
And you make some marvelous comments as to the "future" of the newspaper.

I also believe it will survive in some fashion...and that will be good for a LOT of people.

Like you both say...we just that ONE person to come forward and make that ONE specific difference (again).

Excellent post.

Stay safe out there.